In How The Other Half Live by Jacob Riis, he talks about the slums of post civil war New York City. Discussing the harsh living conditions and work environments, Riis captures this not only in words but by the eye of a lens. His photographs speak to people more on the level of showing instead of someone imagining what it could possibly be like. With jobs being scarce and wages being close to nothing most people lived in poverty with dilapidated down houses and barely enough food to feed themselves. Riis describes the problems tenants had with the condition of the property and the landlord inability to fix anything.
Living in New York City at theses times were rough, especially with the little wages people were earning and the disgusting working conditions. With people immigrating by the numbers into the city, housing was a necessity. It was said that the city use to have a population of a hundred thousand and within thirty-five years it grew to half a million. So as you can see that the real-estate business was a prime market back then. The landlords of the buildings really didn’t care about the conditions that the tenets were living in, “It was rent the owners was after; nothing was said in the contract about either the safety or the comfort of the tenants” (Riis Chapter I). Not to mention the rent was fixed at a high rate so it could cover the damages the rooms took from lack of attention and confined living. What owners did was they took large more spacious rooms and they cut them down into smaller confined rooms so they could get the max amount of rent out of their building. The greedy actions that landlords took by creating theses five-foot by five-foot rooms created serious problems for the people living in them. Riis brings up an instance where a landlord’s house burns down. It actually turns out that the house is fully insured for $800 but the people paying $5 monthly made him $600 a year so as you can see he was losing... [continues]
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